Know that there are eight evil thoughts that bring about all that is vile: those of sensuality, lechery, love of money, anger, inappropriate grief, despondency, vainglory and pride. All these wage warfare against every person.
The eight evil thoughts
- If you want to defeat sensuality, cultivate restraint, have fear of God and you will overcome it.
- If you want to defeat lechery, cultivate wakefulness and thirst, always contemplating death, never conversing with women- and you will overcome it.
- If you want to defeat love of money, cultivate non-acquisitiveness and frugality.
- If you want to defeat anger, cultivate meekness and generosity and bear in mind how much evil the Jews did to our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet He, the God Who befriended us, did not become angry but, on the contrary, prayed for them, saying ‘Father forgive them this sin for they know not what they do’.
- If you want to defeat inappropriate grief, never grieve over anything that is transient. If people injure you with words or upset you or dishonor you, do not grieve; but, on the contrary, rejoice. Grieve only when you sin, and even in this case do not go to extremes, or you may fall into despair and perish.
- If you want to defeat despondency, work with your hands for a short time, or read, or pray frequently.
- If you want to defeat vainglory, do not love praise, nor honor, nor fine clothes, nor precedence, nor favor. On the contrary, cherish occasions when you are reprimanded and dishonored, when false charges are brought against you. And reproach yourself for being more sinful than any other sinner.
- If you want to defeat pride, then, if you achieve anything, do not say that you have done it through your own labors or with your own strength. If you fast, keep vigils, sleep on the bare ground, sing psalms, serve in the altar or do a great number of prostrations, say that it was done with God’s help and protection, not by your own strength and effort.
The prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian
Nothing could be simpler and more accessible than this recipe of Saint Efraim against the eight diseases of the soul – the eight evil thoughts – and in order to make it stronger and more effective, add to it the prayer of the same Saint Efraim:
‘Lord and Master of my life, do not give me a spirit of sloth, inquisitiveness, lust for power, or idle talk.
But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love.
Indeed, Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, for you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen’.
Based on Saint Ephraim the Syrian
The photographs are from the feast of Saint Ephraim the Syrian at the Vatopedi Monastery, Mount Athos, the name day of our Abbot Efraim. At the feast were present Metr. Isaias of Tamasu, Ioustinos of Kalamarias, Eirinaios of Evmeniou. On the right sung the choir „Tronos” of the Romanian Patriarchate directed by the archdeacon Mihai Bucă.
The audio are live recordings from the feast.
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